In a world where we’ve become so reliant on technology, it’s difficult to imagine living our day to day lives without it! It’s what helps us wake up in the morning, makes sure we’re not late for a meeting, allows us to communicate with friends and family around the world, and of course it can transport us into immersive and interactive worlds! But what if the product of our technology was more than the devices in our hands, what if it became a sentient being and could think for itself, what if it was more like us? Would we feel threatened, or could we come to terms and grow to love it?
Well, Radi Art has teamed up with Top Hat Studios to answer all of those questions in their latest Cyberpunk love story, Synergia. But will its dystopian world keep our eyes glued to the screen, or will we be finding ourselves going AFK?
I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan of Visual Novel games. As an avid reader I’d much rather just lay back with a book in my hand instead of sitting reading on the tv screen for hours on end. Also the usual amount of fluff and filler that comes with Visual Novels drives me nuts. Get to the story, I don’t want to click through ten pages of anime characters breathing heavily and “umming”. HARD PASS!
So, it’s safe to say that before starting up Synergia I was more than a little apprehensive. I knew at least that this wasn’t going to be a run of the mill anime VN experience given the artwork was wildly original looking and the content seemed so much more dark.
When it comes to Visual Novels, I’m of two minds really. On one hand, I love the idea of an interactive storytelling experience, and more often than not the artistic direction and aesthetics of those types of games are stunning! On the other hand however, I typically don’t have the patience to sit there and read for hours and hours. Especially when sitting in front of the TV.
I end up yearning for something a little more engaging and visual novels just don’t deliver in that aspect. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part that has been my experience. And that’s why I was hesitant to start Synergia. I mean, I loved the art style, and the whole dystopian cyberpunk setting was super intriguing, but I was worried that I would get roped into another 10-40 hour slog-fest that would make my eyes glaze over as I’m barraged with walls and walls of text.
In a lot of ways, Synergia surpassed my expectations. Unlike many of the Visual Novels I’ve played in the past, Synergia had me hooked with its captivating setting, and well written dialog. I was fascinated with the day to day dealings of the main character Cila and her internal struggles with trying to reconcile her feelings toward the ever present population of androids. A struggle which suddenly is made even harder when she runs into the enigma known as Mara, a new generation of androids that are nearly indistinguishable from humans.
It’s not very often I walk away from a game like Synergia, still thinking about it and wondering what will happen next! But that’s exactly what it did! I wanted to jump right back in to see how everything would pan out. Plus, that artwork is just fantastic and truly conveys the atmosphere perfectly.
I would say no, it doesn’t hold up to my typical experience with Visual Novels at all. It was a great deal better! The story was completely fluid and the dialogue was generally very efficient. There were a few filler moments, but they were necessary to develop the relationship between Cila and Mara.
Once we finished our first round through the story I can’t say I was completely sold on the direction it took but the fact that it kept me interested and eagerly awaiting new information through most of it, is definitely a positive thing. It’s not often I play any game in general where I find all of the characters to be interesting and likeable regardless of where their loyalties lie.
I think overall the whole game as a package sets a very appealing stage. The dynamic writing, the rough sketch artwork, the deep resonant soundtrack; it all really came together to create a very dark and mysterious milieu that I wholly enjoyed.
Game-wise there really isn’t too much I have to complain about. The only thought I really had while playing was that I wished there were more than three dialogue choice events. It’s fairly impactful that the entire course of the story can be altered by Cila making just three choices, but I think adding in that extra bit of interactivity makes games like these feel a little more like games, and a little less like reading a book on your tv. They also spark a lot of internal debate, or if you’re playing with someone else (as we were) then a lot of discussion about the potential consequences of either choice.
Unfortunately Synergia, being what it is, does suffer from some tedium. Which is no fault of the story nor its art direction, but there’s nothing really to break that monotony up in any way. Sure the music changes here and there, and there’s a variety of beautiful scenes to take in, but what I think the game feels like it’s missing is a way to make it feel like you, the player, are more involved in how the story plays out. My suggestion would be an expanded choice system. Maybe even have consequences for some of those choices. I mean, there were a few choices to make (3 total) throughout the game, that eventually lead to one of two endings, but nothing too extravagant.
One thing I wouldn’t change however, would be the setting. I loved the world of Synergia and a game that expanded upon that would be amazing. In fact, the only thing I would change about that portion of the game, would be to give me more of it! Maybe even some animated scenes!
I honestly think that Synergia is a perfect title to check out if you’re looking for a low key game with a fascinating narrative. Especially if you’re new to Visual Novels, or are looking to get into them. Sure, it can be a little slow paced, and it’s pretty shallow from a gameplay/interactivity perspective, but as someone who typically doesn’t play these types of games, it might just change your mind about the genre.
If you like tv shows like Altered Carbon, movies like iRobot, and/or anime like Ergo Proxy then Synergia is a Visual Novel you’re definitely going to want to check out and add to your cyberpunk/ android predilections. It’s a full bodied story with an impressive array of characters and plot development that is absolutely worth spending a few hours immersing yourself in.
You know what? It was kind of great to find a game that changed our minds on a genre we typically try to avoid. Now, I’m not saying we’re going to jump off the deep end and start buying up every Visual Novel we can, but if we can find something short and sweet that’s just as enthralling as Synergia, then you can bet we’re going to try it out! In the meantime, we’ll think fondly back on our time with Synergia, and eagerly anticipate more games like it from Radi Art!